OECD Health Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership health studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

English, French

Mismatches in the Formal Sector, Expansion of the Informal Sector

Immigration of Health Professionals to Italy

Italy has an aging population which is placing a strain on the public health system and on families. At the same time, it has a distorted market of supply of health professionals. Past over enrolment in medical faculties has produced a current glut of doctors, although shortages will appear as this cohort retires. It is difficult for foreign-trained doctors, and Italian-trained foreigners, to practice medicine in Italy. In nursing, the situation is more critical, with far fewer graduates of nursing schools than necessary even to meet replacement needs. Care for the aged, which was traditionally borne by families, has increasingly been delegated to informal immigrant workers. In the absence of major changes in the care industry, recruitment efforts for nurses and other health technicians has expanded to include other source countries. Obstacles to international recruitment of nurses have been reduced, both by simplifying recognition of foreign qualifications and by exempting nurses from limits on labour migration to Italy. However, a ban on permanent employment in the public sector has relegated foreign nurses largely to private sector and shorter-term contract work. National and local health authorities have also become involved in supporting international recruitment of nurses, often through private agencies. In the home-care sector, families have been granted more opportunities to hire care workers from abroad legally, and many local authorities are attempting to integrate this spontaneous private care into their eldercare system through skill upgrades and support. Nonetheless, international migration will not be sufficient to solve Italy’s health care professional needs.


JEL: I19: Health, Education, and Welfare / Health / Health: Other; J61: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
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